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  • Basic Emergency Food Storage Principles

    From an evening power outage to the weeks of turmoil following a major natural disaster like a hurricane or earthquake, the world has a habit of occasionally playing havoc with our daily routine. From the inconvenient to the catastrophic, it’s always a smart idea to have an emergency food storage at the ready in case the unexpected does befall you. And anchoring those supplies must be an adequate reserve of food and water—the absolute fundamentals. Fortunately, Mountain House makes stocking emergency rations easy. Our meals boast the longest proven shelf life on the market—and, best of all, they taste absolutely delicious! Survival fare, as it turns out, can be both nutritious and lip-smacking—at least when it comes from a company with a half-century reputation as a leader in the freeze-dried food industry. (It’s no surprise many of our customers reach for Mountain House cans and pouches for everyday at-home dinners, not just for camping trips or survival stockpiles. From the kitchen to the backwoods, from routine evenings to disaster zones, Mountain House always delivers!) Let’s run down some of the best long-term food-storage tips so you’re ready to hunker down when the next contingency comes knocking at the door. 

    How Much to Store

    A recent blogpost of ours spelled out the calculations you’ll want to consider when deciding how much emergency food you should be stockpiling. Factors include the size of your family, the caloric requirements of each individual, and any special dietary needs. The general rule of thumb when it comes to disaster preparedness is to have what you need to get by for at least 72 hours, but, naturally, larger supplies give you more security in the event things take much longer to get back to normal. Our Mountain House Just In Case...® emergency food supply kits come partitioned in two-, three-, four-, five-, and 14-day amounts, which makes assembling reserves a breeze. You can use our handy-dandy Emergency Food Supply Calculator (available on our Emergency Preparedness page) to estimate how many of what size kits to purchase for different intervals and numbers of people.

    Don’t Forget Cooking Water

    When estimating how much water to include in your emergency supplies, be sure to factor in what you’ll need for cooking (including for those Mountain House delicacies!). And remember: Besides stockpiling bottled water, it’s a good idea to equip yourself with the means to purify water in case you need to rely on questionable sources.

    Emergency Food Storage Containers

    A supply of emergency rations doesn’t do much good if it’s improperly stored. Here’s another of the many pluses of Mountain House: Between our waterproof pouches, vacuum-sealed Pro-Paks®, airtight and sturdy #10 cans, buckets, and kits, our containers are ideal for maintaining an emergency food supply for the long term. Place other ingredients such as rice, cereal, sugar, spices, and the like in resealable containers (a screw-top jar, for instance) to preserve freshness and keep out insects, rodents, and other pests. Wrap perishable nibbles such as crackers in plastic bags and keep those in a resealable container, too. Label all your containers with the date you restocked the supply so you’ve got a yardstick for gauging your food’s level of freshness.

    Where to Store Long-Term Emergency Rations

    You want to make sure any long-term food supplies stay sheltered from moisture, high temperatures, and direct sunlight. Cool, dry, dark—that’s the best sort of setting for your emergency rations.

    Figuring Out What To Use When

    Let’s say your power goes out for an extended period. How should you prioritize your rations? Eat what’s most vulnerable to spoilage first, namely those perishables in your refrigerator and on the pantry shelves. As the USDA notes, an unopened fridge can maintain foods such as eggs and meat at a safely frosty temperature (at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) for four hours or so. Freezer items should be next on your list: A properly insulated and completely full freezer that isn’t opened can keep items safe for some two days (less if it’s only partly full). As long as a food item still contains ice crystals, it normally should be OK to eat—and it can be refrozen. Try to minimize opening the fridge and freezer doors to preserve as much of their cold as you can. A good strategy is to keep a regularly updated list of stored items taped to your freezer so you know what’s in there and where: That cuts down on costly rummaging time. If electricity’s not looking to come back on board for some time, the USDA recommends sticking block or dry ice inside the refrigerator. Once you’ve worked through your perishables, move on to those items with longer shelf lives. A simple and effective way to arrange non-perishables by their expiration date (whether indicated by a “use-by” label on a package or the date you filled a container) is to keep older items in front, newer ones in back. That way you’re reaching first for the foods that need to be eaten soonest. Mountain House meals don’t have any competitors in the emergency-food department in terms of shelf life—not with our 30 Year Taste Guarantee! A manufacture or ‘Best Used By” date of a given product can be found on its packaging. Refer to the information on our website to determine the specific shelf life.

    Keeping Tabs on Your Stockpile

    Periodically inspect your food stores to make sure they’re in good condition. Discard expired items, containers that have been punctured, swollen or rusted cans, and any foods that smell or look spoiled. Don’t take risks with foodborne illnesses.

    Assessing Flood Damage

    If floodwaters breach your emergency food supply, you should get rid of any items that might have come into contact with them. As the USDA explains, you can still use all-metal cans and retort pouches if they weren’t damaged or otherwise compromised by floodwaters: You should take off their labels (which can foster microbes), wash the cans or pouches with soap and water, rinse them with potable water, and then sanitize them using either boiling water or a bleach solution. Whether you’re outfitting a 72-hour bag or a bomb shelter—or you’re just looking to spice up your pantry options—turn to Mountain House, your go-to source for the highest-quality, best-tasting, and longest-lasting freeze-dried food around!

    Inspired for an Adventure? Check out Beef Stroganoff - Pouch and Beef Stew - Pouch